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Bosnia and Herzegovina: A blast and a death will determine what happens next…

Bosnia and Herzegovina has suffered a particularly serious blow following a strong explosion at the country's one and only oil refinery in Brod, on the border with Croatia.

The Brod refinery, which employs 900 people, is managed by the Russian state-run oil company Zarubezhneft.

The unit processes the quantities of oil imported by Bosnia and Herzegovina through the Adriatic JANAF underwater pipeline.

This pipeline is based on Krk Island in Croatia and feeds refineries in the Balkans, as well as in Central and Eastern Europe with oil.

Already from the outset there have been strong reactions from both sides of the border due to the operation of the Brod refinery, which appears to be a source of pollution in the wider region, burdening Bosnia and Herzegovina as much as Croatia.

BiH is now the only country in the Balkans able to extract electricity from its hydroelectric infrastructure.

Two months ago, after lengthy efforts and negotiations within the country to ensure equilibrium between the two communities, the country received the "green light" from the EU to draw up its new energy strategy, while it was granted significant European funds.

"The way to develop the energy sector is now paving the way for the release of European funds intended to support the European course of the countries of the Western Balkans", Bosnia and Herzegovina's former (recent polls will judge who will be the next one) Prime Minister Denis Zvizdic had said.

So, by 2035, Bosnia and Herzegovina must boost Renewable Energy Sources (RES), while ensuring the country's energy security.

The country, however, seems to rely equally on lignite as it measures eight lignite-based power plants, regardless of whether they are all in operation.

In any case, as reported in the studies published by non-governmental organisations, including Bankwatch Network, the lack of strategic planning results in the environment being laden with excessive use of hydroelectric units or/and by lignite and oil…. / IBNA

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The Assembly said YES to the constitutional changes to name Macedonia’s North

A majority vote of 80 MPs has approved the decision to open the constitution for constitutional amendments to the name under the Prespa Agreement.

These changes will enable the country's name change in the Republic of North Macedonia in accordance with the Prespa Agreement reached between Skopje and Athens.

Initially, it was voted through the electronic system, and with the insistence of the VMRO-DPMNE parliamentary group leader, the deputies voted separately.

In the two voting phases, 80 required votes of the ruling coalition, the Albanian opposition parties, and the votes of 8 deputies of the opposition VMRO-DPMNE coalition were secured. Prime Minister Zoran Zaev and Foreign Minister Nikola Dimitrov also attended the session./IBNA

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Tsipras, Draghi and the reason behind their meeting

The meeting of Greek prime minister Alexis Tsipras with the head of the European Central Bank (ECB), Mario Draghi in Brussels could be nothing but accidental during the first summit, in the European capital.

Surely, there have been positive signals about the good course of the Greek economy, however, there is an issue that remains thorny for Athens and is related to the preparation of the next issue of a bond, which is scheduled for the beginning of the new year.

And why would Mario Draghi could have a say in this….

At the moment, all four Greek systemic banks (National, Eurobank, Piraeus and Alpha Bank) have in their portfolios approximately 7.5 billion euros in Greek government securities. But the ECB does not give the "green light" for their increase.

The above came into force in February 2015 during the time Yannis Varoufakis was at the helm of the Finance ministry, when Frankfurt expressed its concern that the Finance Ministry could filled banks with treasury bills and bonds in order to solve the liquidity problem of the state. This seems of no usefulness today.

As this restriction is lifted, players in the domestic securities market will become more and bond yields will fall to manageable levels, as the 10-year yield is currently close to 4.5%.

Therefore, the Greek side has well founded reasons to wish to see Draghi's stance changed…. / IBNA

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The frozen conflict between Serbia and Kosovo poses a “stability risk”

Washington appeals on both Belgrade and Pristina to use a "historic opportunity" and reach an agreement which would be a win-win solution, said Matthew Palmer, deputy assistant of the American secretary of state. Palmer spoke during the Belgrade Security Forum today. He has also met President Aleksandar Vucic.

"If somebody wins, and the other side loses, then nobody wins", Palmer said at the panel "Building on momentum in the Balkans".

The American official said that his country does not "push" towards any specific result of the dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina. "We do encourage both sides to find way forward as well as durable and sustainable solution", Palmer said.

The solution must be acceptable for the both sides, he went on. Washington is ready to "hear and assist", Palmer said, adding, however, that he cannot talk about details, especially on a possible swap of the territories.

Palmer explained that no plan of the territory swap has been presented so far. Although the United States do understand concerns that the territory swap could provoke a crisis in the other parts of the region, an unresolved dispute or "frozen conflict" could also "pose a risk for the regional stability", Palmer said.

He underlined that Serbia and Kosovo have a "European future" and that they both need assistance in that regard.

Palmer also referred to the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and Bosnia and Herzegovina. If Skopje wants to join both European Union and NATO, then the Prespa Agreement has no alternative, he emphasised. Palmer appealed on political leaders in Skopje to overcome parties' divisions for the sake of a "European future".

Referring to Bosnia, Palmer said that the "biggest problem" of that country are its "corrupt politicians who use a nationalistic rhetoric to create divisions". He added that the United States are "committed" to Bosnia's territorial integrity.

The "United States want to help everybody. Stronger Western Balkans means a stronger Europe and a stronger Trans-Atlantic partnership", the American diplomat concluded…. / IBNA

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BiH against Kosovo’s membership in Interpol

Bosnia and Herzegovina will not support the membership of Kosovo in Interpol, the BiH Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced.

The Ministry explained this decision based on the fact that BiH has not recognised Kosovo as independent state yet and, accordingly, cannot support its membership in any of the international organisations.

In its press release the Ministry emphasised that it did not recognise the "the self-proclaimed independence of so-called Kosovo and, and in accordance with that, does not support the applications for its membership in the international and regional organisations, therefore it will not support a possible candidacy for the membership of so-called Kosovo in Interpol."

The exception, according to the ministry's statement is the participation of this region that declared independence from Serbia in 2008, in certain international and regional initiatives, which was previously harmonised with Serbia.

"BiH Ministry of Foreign Affairs has delivered to all competent institutions of Bosnia and Herzegovina a detailed explanation of the said foreign-policy goal, which is the ground for Bosnia and Herzegovina's acting at international forums", said the ministry.

Kosovo's recognition is a political issue in Bosnia and Herzegovina, where a decision to acknowledge the independence of this country requires the consent of three constituent ethnic groups and two semi-autonomous entities. Republika Srpska politicians are following the stance of Serbia on this matter. It means that BiH will not recognise Kosovo until Serbia does it.

Pristina issue triggered the very first sparks between elected members of BiH Presidency, Milorad Dodik and Željko Komšić, because Komšić recently said that, as far as he is concerned, Kosovo is an independent state. Dodik reacted with a statement, saying that there is no way to consent to BiH recognising this "Serbian region". Also, politicians in Serbia, the country's president Aleksandar Vučić and the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ivica Dačić, underlined that the Komšić statement is not in accordance with the good relations between two states.

"BiH did not recognise Kosovo, and if members of the Presidency do not respect the territorial integrity of Serbia, they should know that they are breaking friendly relations, as well as provoking our reciprocal reaction. Instead, it's better to turn to co-operation and a common future", Dačić note…. / ΙΒΝΑ

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Inauguration of the SOCAR refinery in Izmir

The state-owned company of Azerbaijan, SOCAR, has put its own stamp in the field of hydrocarbon management in Turkey, inaugurating its first refinery in the eastern city of Izmir.

Turkish president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, and his Azeri counterpart, İlham Aliyev were at today's inauguration ceremony of the STAR refinery.

It took seven to build the refinery -its construction started in 2011- and is expected to reduce Turkey's annual current account deficit by at least $ 1.5 billion.

It is one of the biggest investments in Turkey's history, with a budget of $ 6.3 billion, and one of the largest oil and gas facilities in Europe, the Middle East and Africa. The STAR refinery started its operation by receiving the first cargo ship carrying 80,000 tons of crude from Azerbaijan in early August.

SOCAR's chief executive for Turkey, Zaur Gahramanov, then confirmed the arrival of the first freight and said production would begin at the end of October.

With this refinery Turkey's need to import jet fuels, which will account for 7% of STAR's total output, is expected to be completely eliminate while at the same time it is anticipated to reduce its LPG imports from 79% 70%.

With an annual production capacity of 10 million tons of crude, the refinery will also produce 1.6 million tons of naphtha and 1.6 million tons of jet fuel annually…. / IBNA

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